Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

How to Find Your Audience Online

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Do you know who they are?

Sadly, many business owners don’t know who their audience is. A local Mom-and-Pop variety store may be entirely unaware of who they should be targeting.

So step one: figure out who your customers are.

Just ask

Seems silly, but why do all sorts of research and do little more than guess when you can find out for sure? Simply say, “Oh by the way, I was just wondering where you spend your time online. Do you have a favorite social network?”

Maybe your audience isn’t online, and therefore you don’t need to spend time there. You’ll find out pretty quickly where most of them lie: whether it’s on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or maybe a niche social media site that you’ve never even heard of. Asking is the easiest way to find out – and it’s far easier than guessing.

Be where your people are

After you find out where people are…go there. They may be on multiple channels, and that doesn’t mean you have to devote your time to all of them. Pick one if that’s all the time your resources allow; but sign up for all of them.


For the right kind of business (and audience), MySpace could be lethal (in a good way). For musicians and new bands, MySpace has been a huge key to success.

With the ability, unlike most social networks, to customize backgrounds and profiles, MySpace is truly a brandable network.


Create your personal profile first, then a business fan page. Starting suggesting that friends fan your business, and then start reaching out beyond your friends. You can search for specific keywords within your network; or simply keywords within profiles – depending on privacy settings.

Facebook ads are another way to gain fans. Right now, they’re ultra-targeted and relatively cheap per click.


If your customer base is on Twitter, sign up and build out your profile (including a custom background). Search for people you already know and start following them. Then go to Twitter Search and find some gurus in your industry by searching for keywords in your line of business. Check out Nearby Tweets for tweeps in your area and start following them.

Download an app like TweetDeck and track keywords in either your industry or your physical location. By doing this, you’ll no longer need to search constantly on Nearby Tweets or a similar geo-locating tool. Also, make sure you track your business name. That way, if someone talks about you (positive or negative), you’ll be right there, ready to respond accordingly.


If your audience is on LinkedIn, you should be too! Create a personal profile page, along with a business profile page. Then make sure everyone in your organization is on LinkedIn and become connected with them. Then, look for your audience. Start with people you know.

Begin joining groups – even creating some around your line of work. Be sure to check the Answers section in order to become the expert in your industry. Both Groups and Answers are great places to find people to become connected with.

You’re not done yet

Now that you’ve found your audience, make sure you continue to search for new fans, friends, connections, and followers constantly. Consistently engage with these people – no matter what network you’re on.

Nicki Hicks
Go where the people are

Is Google Too Suggestive?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

In May, Google announced they’d be adding more to the “Suggest” function. Up until now, I hadn’t noticed; but perhaps that’s because I rarely search from

Yesterday, I found it helpful:

google suggest links

However, if, as Search Engine Land suggests, there will be AdWords included Suggest, I can only imagine this space will be overcrowded in no time.

That begs the question…

Isn’t less more?

Time and time again, seemingly simplistic interfaces seem to become complicated. Look at Facebook and Twitter…

Facebook added a news feed, which has more recently become a real time news feed. Certainly, there are reasons for such changes; but at a certain point is evolving for just evolution’s sake?

Twitter recently added a retweet function from its website. Seemingly helpful, it’s done nothing other than muddle up the simplistic interface they had going. This function, in particular, received nothing but bad reviews.

Certainly Google couldn’t be the next monopoly to be pressured to overcrowd in an effort to be cutting edge. Dearest Google, simple is good. Simple is why you are king.

Fortunately, more often than not, Google will test ideas relentlessly before they leave Labs. But it’s something to think about.

Nicki Hicks
Website minimalist

How to Find a Job using Social Media

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

This week, I gave two presentations (or rather, the same presentation, twice) for a senior Business Seminar class at Saint Joseph’s College. Though it’s always nice going back to my alma mater, more so than usual, I feel for the senior class.

A year and a half ago, it was easier to find a job. Obviously, it took some work, but it’s nowhere near the type of competitive environment these soon-to-be grads face in the next 6 months of their job search. So how are you supposed to differentiate yourself in such an atmosphere? Why, with social media, of course!

The full presentation is in Slideshare below, but here are some of the key points:

  • On Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter already? Great…now go in and clean up and fill out your profiles. Not on them? Join! (Note: only join Twitter if you can devote the time to it.)
  • The next step: go above and beyond. Engage people by friending/fanning, following, and connecting with the right people and groups.
  • Jobs in ME/VT/NH and many of your other favorite job listing sites have a presence on all of the major social media networks. Why go to their website everyday when you can engage them via Twitter? or Facebook? or even an RSS feed?
  • A really neat find: when I was doing research for the presentation, I stumbled upon some video resumes on YouTube – what better way to add depth to your resume? But be careful – you have to do your video resume the right way; check out the presentation for tips and tricks for YouTube!

5 Things You Should Remember to do Every Time You Publish a New Blogpost

Friday, August 7th, 2009

So you’ve just created a killer blogpost. It’s got a ferocious title that will bring in a ton of readers, it’s keyword rich, and to top it off – you’ve got some stellar, unique content. Ok, so now what? Hit “publish” and you’re done? I think not…

1. Email subscriptions and RSS

It may sound silly, but make sure your readers have the ability to subscribe to what you write: be it via email or RSS. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve seen that don’t have either option, and interestingly enough: I’ve only seen them the one time.

2. Tweet about it, post it on Facebook and LinkedIn

Make that puppy viral! Sure, you have your email and RSS subscribers, but proactively seeking new readers and subscribers adds to your community. On top of that, your followers on Twitter might ReTweet your post – sending it out to their followers; your friends on Facebook might “like”, comment, or even repost your post; and your connections on LinkedIn could also access your post.

Specifically for Twitter, give your reader the option to “ReTweet” – the icon in the top left of this post – this way, they don’t have to do any work outside of hitting a button.

3. StumbleUpon it

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t use this tool for all its worth. But the reality is, you can create quite a bit of traffic around StumbleUpon – specifically among those people in your network or those that simply like the same things you do! Bonus: get other people to StumbleUpon the post too!

4. Digg it, or add it to your favorite Social Bookmarking site

There’s a lot of junk on social bookmarking sites. But then again, there’s a lot of great stuff too. Once articles go viral, there’s a ton of traffic in store for them, even if it’s for a short time. (That’s why you need #1 – to keep the readers.)

So, have someone digg or sphinn your post, add it to delicious, reddit, or whichever social bookmarking site you love!

5. Get your incoming link juice on.

Last, but certainly not least, get back to some basic SEO and get some other bloggers/sites to link to your post.

There’s an overlaying theme here: be everywhere. Be it a blogpost, a marketing message, newletter, what have you; distribute it to as many channels as humanly possible.

Nicki Hicks
Getting your blog out there, one post at a time

Facebook is Adding Vanity URLs! Who Cares?

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

In a matter of days, I will be able to changes my Facebook URL from to quite possibly (Update: I snagged or even if I get really lucky! My company will be able to change its URL from to

facebook nicki

So…what’s the big deal?

The biggest bonus: sharing your URL with friends and family. Up until now, a random number code has been a difficult and not-so-easy-way to remember profiles. With vanity URLs, Facebook simply says “people will have an easy-to-remember way to find you”; the official blog also says:

We expect to offer even more ways to use your Facebook username in the future.

Facebook, you tease us.

No, seriously. What’s the big deal? (Nerd Version)

I think it brings up a long-lived argument about the importance of keywords in URLs.

When clients ask if they should get a keyword rich domain, I always say yes. If you already have one, however, it isn’t worth porting and redirecting your current site over. However, if you’re picking a new one, then why not make it keyword rich?

As far as the URL goes, same story. If you’ve got a page with an old, not very keyword rich URL, stick with it. It’s probably built up enough equity that there’s really no reason to change it. But, if you’re working on a new page, make sure that one would make the keyword gods sing! What’s more, if you use a great CMS, your URLS are auto-generated and therefore auto-awesome.

The thing is…as a searcher, seeing a keyword rich URL (notice I did not say keyword stuffed) gives me a little more confidence in clicking than one full of random characters (!@#$%^&*).

For search engines, SEOs still go back and forth whether keyword rich domains do better than non-keyword rich domains. As far as I’m concerned, whatever difference there may be, it isn’t a significant one. So pick one if you can, but don’t worry if you can’t.

Bringing things full circle (or back to Facebook, at least)

Securing vanity URLs may not do more than be cool and help your family avoid carpal tunnel by typing less keystrokes, but then again…it will most definitely help search visibility for your name – or even better – your company’s. The clock is ticking, you’d better grab your username.

Nicki Hicks
And here, I thought we were friends!

Facebook Isn’t Just for College Kids Anymore; It’s For Your Business

Friday, May 29th, 2009

facebook1Not every business is suited to be on Facebook. For example, we would suggest a law firm client of ours actually avoid being on Facebook. In that case, LinkedIn or specialty social networks are the better option.

But for those businesses where Facebook is a right outlet, there are many very cool aspects.

Be a business, look like a person.

With Facebook’s most recent redesign, business pages now look a lot more like personal pages. That means that people can write on your wall and “like” things.

Furthermore, you can write on your wall – or update your status to keep people interested in the know.

Have a blog? Blogposts are easy to incorporate with notes. You can also insert links and embed video and photos.

Fans galore.

Create a fan base for your business. Fans then receive updates you make to your page.

That includes sending blast emails to all of your fans. But be careful – don’t send too many emails – you don’t want to lose your fans!

Join/form groups.

Groups are a great way for business to bring in new fans, increase awareness for events, and simply overall awareness of your business.

Other cool Facebook features

Others see friends are fans – they, in turn, become fans. Seems obvious, but this is how your business can become viral.

Your page is indexed – it may not necessarily be what everyone is searching for; but it’s just another opportunity to rank at the search engines.

So again, Facebook isn’t for every business. But maybe it’s for yours – and maybe you’ll even get new business from it.

Nicki Hicks
Add me as a friend on Facebook

How the Swine Flu is Affecting Search

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

It’s funny how something like a flu strain can cause such a ruckus in search.

Google Search

Google Insights for search gives some really helpful data – including the recent trends in the “flu” category. Below the graph, you’ll find “rising searches”, which is great for brainstorming hot keywords for copy or blogging.

google insights swine flu


Twitter search gives real time hot topics – whether it’s an epidemic or hashtag glorification.

twitter search swine flu


Facebook groups and fan clubs are the perfect spot to find out what’s hot now.

facebook swine flu


You don’t have to go searching far for that latest videos and newscasts on the swine flu from YouTube.

youtube swine flu


Even iPhone apps are getting a new addition via IntuApps.

iphone app swine flu

Nicki Hicks
The bacon phenomenon has finally caught up with us

What can your LinkedIn Profile do for your Search Engine Visibility?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

My boss has recently been interested in the benefits of using LinkedIn – his most recent blogpost being about the advantages for small business people and entrepreneurs using LinkedIn.  In addition, I recieved an email from LinkedIn this morning about their newest addition: LinkedIn Applications.  So, I figured it’s high time I do a little investigatory work myself…

The first thing I noticed – while Facebook profiles will, more often than not, outrank it; searches for people with LinkedIn profiles will rank incredibly high (usually the first page).  My profile, for instance, is the fourth result in a search for my name, the fifth being a SERP for my name in LinkedIn:

So…what does that mean?  In all honesty, not all the much.  I mean how many people search for my name other than me?  The catch: searching for your friends, colleagues, classmates, or even businesses.  Say I was searching for the Via Group – an advertising firm right here in Portland.  (Admittedly, they just connected with me on LinkedIn.  But let’s say for the sake of argument I was searching for them.)  Their LinkedIn profile is ranked eighth in a search for “via group”.

Pretty powerful.  Another cool thing about LinkedIn?  They follow THREE of your links! (Most social media sites will usually give you an area to add links for your business, blog, what have you; but will nofollow them.)  For example, my Facebook links are nofollowed (SeoQuake will strikethrough nofollowed links):

Conversely, my LinkedIn profile not only follows my links, but also allows me to choose my own anchor text – even more powerful:

Moral of the story: If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile (whether personal or business), get one!  And while you’re at it, follow me -

Nicki Hicks
Find me on LinkedIn

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